Leaking oxygen cylinder caused fire - driver of burnt ambulance

An oxygen cylinder inside the wreckage of ambulance that caught fire on Kasese-Fort Portal Road on Wednesday. Right is the driver, Mr Jeanmarie Bayoli Masereka, at Fort Portal Referral Hospital. PHOTOS/ALEX ASHABA

What you need to know:

  • Driver says he only managed to rescue an attendant because the fire was intense.

The driver of an ambulance that caught fire on Kasese-Fort Portal road in Bunyangabu District on Wednesday, has said a leaking oxygen cylinder caused the fire.
The ambulance attached to Bwera Hospital in Kasese District was hired to take a patient from Kasese General Hospital to Kiruddu hospital in Kampala.
“While driving, I saw smoke coming out of the vehicle and I decided to park to find out what had happened. When I checked, I saw the nurse and attendant trying to fix the oxygen cylinder cap that had leaked,” Mr Jeanmarie Bayoli Masereka said. 
Mr Masereka said they successfully fixed the oxygen cylinder and resumed their journey until he stopped again after noticing fire.

 “When I saw the fire, I tried to open the door but found that they (occupants) had locked themselves inside and I got the fire extinguisher from the car to contain the fire but it did not help,” he said.
Mr Masereka said he started breaking the window and door glasses to rescue the occupants but only managed to rescue one attendant.
“After the rescue, the fire was still intense. I called a passer-by to call other people for help who later called police but people were already dead,” he said.
He said after the incident, he and other victims were first taken to Kibiito Health Centre IV and later referred to Fort Portal Regional Referral Hospital.
The deceased included Peter Asaba (patient) and Robert Baluku (nurse). Other survivors are Ms Jane Kabarisa, 42, a sister of Asaba, Garvin Bagaya, 25, and Ms Donah Kabahuma, 27.

The senior nursing officer-in-charge of the surgical ward at Fort Portal Hospital, Ms Joyce Munakenya, said they only received the driver and an attendant.
Ms Munakenya said the attendant was severely burnt and they later referred her to Mulago burns unit yesterday.
“We received only two victims of the ambulance accident, one we referred to Mulago on Thursday morning and we are still managing the driver at our facility. When he gets better, we shall discharge him,” she said.
Mr Fanuel Barbara, a relative of the deceased patient, dismissed reports that Ms Kabahuma had also died in the fire.

“We are now at the burial of the late Asaba but the news that Kabahuma died is not true, she was referred to Kampala where she is getting treatment,” he said.
Dr Richard Obeti, the Bunyangabu health officer, said Kabarisa and Bagaya never sustained any injuries although they were taken to Kibiito Health Centre IV.
“The daughters of the deceased who were seated in front with the driver had no injuries, when they were referred to our facility, we decided to discharge them and we referred other two patients to Fort Portal Regional Referral Hospital,”he said.

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